Everything Else

Everything Else (Todo lo demás) poster

Everything Else movie poster

For her debut feature, Mexican writer/director Natalia Almada follows the daily routine of Doña Flor (Academy Award Nominee  Adriana Barraza – Babel, Amores Perros), a  bitter and lonely woman working at a government office in Mexico City. Everything Else  (Todo Lo Demás) is built on a succession of repetitive, mechanical sequences aiming at making us experience her loneliness and tedious life: We see her getting ready in the morning, putting on her stockings, taking the metro, sitting at her desk, going to the bathroom, hanging out at a swimming pool and dinning alone back home. She doesn’t seem to have any friend, besides her cat and, as a result, you won’t be surprised to see her make her customers’ life miserable.

Below that quite insignificant premise and surface, Ms. Almada hides a multi-layered work designed to tackle several themes. At the core, this is obviously a movie about women. If you pay attention, you will notice that the film spends most of the time showing Doña around women, whether it’s in the metro, at the swimming pool or at work. Ms. Almada more particularly brushes a realistic but sad portrait of single mature women, not only showcasing their loneliness but also their aging bodies – thus the presence of shower scenes. Of course, this is also a satire of bureaucracy, Ms. Flor’s rigorous, unfair attitude – she’s a clerk issuing ID cards – reflecting a typical and much-dreaded experience dealing with government workers and paperwork – incidentally, this must be a global trend as it’s the same thing in my native France. Finally this is a movie about Mexico’s dangers and violence, horrible events happening in places she visits or to people she encounters.

Before Everything Else, Ms. Almada made a few documentaries, some being shown at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals, and this debut is certainly ambitious, whether it’s in terms of content or direction, halfway between documentary and fiction. Unfortunately, her conversion as a fiction filmmaker isn’t convincing yet. While I usually enjoy slow-paced, realistic works, Everything Else proves to be as tedious as Doña’s life. Using an often misunderstood post-modern approach where a film’s surface reflects its content – think Showgirls or the recent Neon Demon –, the filmmaker tries to make us feel her character’s emotions and, unfortunately for us, she succeeds. If you build a movie around a groundhog-day like structure, something major needs to happen to the central character and take him/her on an unexpected path; otherwise you will lose your spectators’ attention. Contrary to another recent Mexican movie Lupe Under the Sun which did pull it off, Everything Else fails because Ms. Almada doesn’t seem to master the foundation of fiction works. She is so busy trying to build a realistic, subtle film where everything happens discreetly in the background, that she forgets about her audience, leaving us on the side of a deserted narrative route.

Director: Natalia Almada – Actors: Adriana Barraza – Running Time: 1:38 – Year: 2015 – Country: Mexico/
Click here to watch the Everything Else trailer
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Fred Thom

Fred Thom

Editor-in-Chief/Founder/Film Critic at Plume Noire
The founder and editor-in-chief of Plume Noire, Fred Thom covers film festivals and writes movie reviews. He was born in Marseilles, France and is now living in Los Angeles, California.